It ‘s fitting that the last blog post on this site was entitled “Empty”. Originally intended as a descriptor of my workshop, vacated in advance of my relocation, I also serves as an accurate assessment of the volume of my writing during the intervening year. I’ll not bore you with excuses or apologies. I didn’t feel like writing, so I didn’t.
It doesn’t help – not one bit – that I’m in the midst of the longest stretch of my adult life without a workshop. When my family moved from Fernandina Beach, FL to Athens, GA last December, we were prepared to spend a couple months in my Dad’s guesthouse while we searched for a home of our own. We were in the market for our “forever” home. A place to put down roots and watch our children grow up. More acres than neighbors. An open patch for a garden and blueberry bushes. A forest to explore and trees to harvest for firewood and woodworking. And, of course, a spacious and inviting workshop.
The search was fruitless for about a month. My wife and I had different ideas of perfection. My heart was set on a small, outdated (read:ugly) home on 46 gorgeous acres of oaks and pastures. She gravitated towards a stately new home on a cul-de-sac with seven acres and four neighbors (at least the acre:neighbor ratio was right). We kept searching for a month, but my Dad’s tiny guest house seemed to grow smaller by the day with three kids underfoot. We finally compromised, and by compromise, I mean I agreed to make an offer on the home she wanted.
It took a week of back-and-forth with the inflexible corporate owners (the home’s builder had been a casualty of the financial crisis and was purchased out of bankruptcy), but we finally had a contract in our hands between Christmas and New Year’s. She was ecstatic, and I had warmed up to the fact that I wouldn’t have to spend thousands of dollars and hours of my life on repairs and upgrades.
The day after we signed the contract, our dream home hit the market.
It was only on 8 acres (plenty for my wife – a bit paltry for me), but they were the most gorgeous 8 acres in the county, as far as I was concerned. The house was perched upon a 100-foot bluff and nestled among soaring oaks and sprightly beeches. The elevation declined towards the north end of the property as the oaks gave way to tulip-poplars and river birches straddling a wide, lazy creek. A garden spot was already fenced in, as well as a dozen blueberry bushes and two rows of blackberries. A small orchard of peaches, pears, apples, and figs dotted one side of the garden, with a chicken coop and a garden shed on the other. The home itself was clean, cute, generously-sized and well-built, with spacious decks in the back and a covered porch on the front. It was Perfect.
I showed the pictures to my wife. She was…not happy. Quite the opposite, in fact. She knew I had initial reservations about the home on the cul-de-sac. Nonetheless, I assured her that I would be happy there (which was true. I’m happy most places). What was I doing still looking at houses? And besides, we have a contract!
Well, here’s the thing about real estate contracts: contingency clauses. We had 14 days to arrange financing and inspect the home, and during that period we could walk away for any reason. I was not prepared to go through with the biggest financial decision of my life when a home that we both liked better was on the market and ready for offers. She grudgingly agreed to let me arrange a viewing.
She was ready to make an offer the moment we walked through the front door. A month later, on January 31, 2017, we closed on the house. We’ve made it through one Gardening Season, and the Firewood Season is just getting started. It is home. It is Perfect.
Well, except for one little thing. There is no workshop. Not yet, anyway.